Forrest fights back for third straight D9A title

Friday, May 12, 2017
The 2016-2017 District 9A Tournament champions Forrest Rockets pose after beating Eagleville 6-3 in the second title game Wednesday night at Chapel Hill.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

It’s very hard to beat a close rival four times in a row, but four-out-of-five over Eagleville did the trick for the Forrest Rockets, who lost the first winner’s bracket game 11-10 to the Eagles before coming away with a tough 6-3 late night win over the Rutherford county squad to claim their third straight District 9A Tournament title Wednesday night at Chapel Hill.

“I would not expect anything less in a district game when you live less than 15 minutes apart and the boys all know each other,” District 9A Co-Coach of the Year Bart Joyce said. “That’s baseball at its best right there with two teams getting after it and grinding to win that title. It was fun.”

The two squads followed the same scenario as last season with the Eagles winning the first of two same night championship tilts, but losing the second to finish as runner-up.

“They rose to the challenge and I did not doubt these guys one bit,” Joyce said. “They stayed in both ballgames, we were down 7-2 at one point in the first game, but all 25 guys in the dugout stayed up and we came up a little short in the first game, but pulled it out there in the second game.”

The Rockets (21-11-1) host Jo Byrns (14-12) on Monday in the Region 5A Tournament opening round at 5 p.m., while Eagleville (18-16) makes the long trek north to Cross Plains to take on the District 10A champion East Robertson (21-11) Indians.

Forrest All-District 9A selections from left are, Jacob Jones, Jonathan Lykins, Ethan Mealer, Luke Cunningham, Dustin Brashear and JT Ferguson.

“We will prepare like always,” District Tournament MVP and Forrest senior Jacob Jones said. “We will just do what we do, practice defense, have a little bit of batting practice, get a scouting report on them and be ready for Monday.”

Eagleville was the early aggressor in the first game, taking an early 9-2 lead in the fourth inning before the Rockets clawed their way back, cutting the deficit to 11-9 on a Jones two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Dustin Brashear, the third Forrest pitcher to take the mound for the Rockets in the contest, held the Eagles in check in the top of the sixth before Ethan Mealer made it a one-run game with an RBI double in the bottom of the frame.

The Rockets had the tying run on third with two outs, but could not convert.

Eagleville starting pitcher Austin Wells turned in a yeoman performance on the mound, gutting out the first 7.1 innings.

Cody Sostrom came on with a man on second and one down and got a fly ball to center for the second out before Ethan Cobb made a spectacular diving catch in right field to end the game.

Eagleville had 14 hits in the game with Blake Joyner (2B) going 3-for-4 and Cade Herdon (HR, 2RBI, 2RS), Ethan Cobb (2B, 2RBI, RS), Issac Gleaves (HR, 2RBI, 2RS) and Jonah Clement (RBI, RS) all had two hits apiece.

The Rockets pounded out 13 hits in the contest with JT Ferguson (2B, 3B, 2RBI, 2RS), Brashear (two2B, RBI, RS) and Dylan Eady (2B, BB, 2RS) all connecting with three base hits apiece.

Blaize Sweeney had two hits, while Mealer (2B, RBI, FC) Jones (3RBI, RS) had one hit apiece.

After the 11-10 setback, the Rockets were the visiting team in the second game and they notched a first inning run on a big two-out RBI double by Mealer after Eagleville had turned a bases loaded no outs double play.

Forrest ace Jonathan Lykins moved to 7-1 on the season when he tossed a complete game to clinch the District 9A title Wednesday night at Chapel Hill.

What Forrest did have was their ace on the mound in Jonathan Lykins, who set down the Eagles 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.

Eagleville starting pitcher Blake Brewer tossed a scoreless second inning before an RBI single by Eagle center fielder Blake Joyner tied the game at 1-1 in the home half of the inning.

Brewer worked his way out of bases loaded two-out jam in the top of the third inning and Lykins gave up one hit and no runs in the bottom of the inning.

Brewer set down the first two Forrest batters in the top of the inning, before he ran into control problems, beginning with a base on balls to Ferguson.

Luke Cunningham doubled to right field to put runners on second and third before Brewer hit Brashear with a pitch to load the bases.

Lykins coaxed a walk to drive in Ferguson to make it 2-1 before Brewer retired the next Forrest batter to limit the damage.

Lykins had a strong bottom of the frame, setting down the Eagles in order.

Sweeney wound up on second base on an error to lead off the fifth inning and Gauge Anderson came in to run for the Forrest catcher.

Anderson sped to third on a wild pitch and after Brewer recorded a strikeout, Jaylen Smith lashed an RBI single to left field to put the Rockets up 3-1.

Brewer banged a one-out single in the bottom of the inning and Austin Wells followed with an RBI double to cut the Forrest lead to 2-1.

Lykins struck out the next batter and it looked like he would get out of the inning, but a ground ball to Mealer at third base was thrown out of play and Wells was awarded home plate on the overthrow, tying the game at 3-3.

Forrest squandered a two-on, two-out opportunity in the top of the sixth inning and the Eagles threatened again in the home half of the stanza.

Cobb beat out an infield single and Ryan Wells reached on a Forrest error, putting runners on first and second.

Cade Herdon followed with a perfect sacrifice but to move both runners up, but Lykins came up with back-to-back strikeouts to extinguish the fire.

Eady led off the top of the seventh, standing on second base after reaching on a throwing error by second baseman Kobe Timberlake before Smith drew a walk.

District Tournament MVP Jacob Jones delivers the go-ahead base hit in the top of the seventh inning in the Rockets’ 6-3 win in game two.

A wild pitch sent Eady to third base before Jones put the Rockets back in front with an RBI base hit to right field.

Jones stole second and Ferguson followed with a huge two-run single to center field, giving Lykins a three-run cushion at 6-3.

“We had a couple of big key hits there with Jones and Ferguson and some good base running by Eady,” Joyce said. “Eady came up and got on base and took second on an iffy ball there, but that was some aggressive base running and we got those runs in to put the ball in Lykins hands to close it out.”

Jones talked about the big hit, saying, “It was a little nerve wracking, but I knew I had to do the job, so I just put it back up the middle.”

Lykins got the first out of the bottom of the inning on a grounder to Mealer at third and Sweeney threw out the next batter at first on a dropped ball strikeout.

“Lykins has done the job all year,” Joyce said. “I’m proud of everything he has done on the mound for us, he is our go-to guy and he’s not done yet.”

Boyett walked to keep the game alive, but a ground ball to the defensive stalwart at short Smith was what the Rockets needed as he flipped to Cunningham at second base for the final out to secure the district title.

“Most of the time that is an out and I was glad to see the ball go over that way (Smith),” Joyce said. “The boys played well, I’m proud of them for getting the job done, so we will get ready for next week.”

Lykins talked about his performance after the game, saying, “That was a lot of pressure and it was a good thing I had my teammates or I wouldn’t have done it. After we got those three runs in the top of the inning I knew all I had to do was concentrate on my pitching and just get those three outs and we win.”

Game One

Eagleville 021 620 0-11 14 7

Forrest 002 431 0-10 13 4

Eagleville: Blake Joyner 3-for-4, Cade Herdon 2-for-4, Ethan Cobb 2-for-4, Issac Gleaves 2-for-4, Jonah Clement 2-for-4, Blake Brewer 1-for-5, Austin Wells 1-for-5, Ryan Wells 1-for-3

2B: Brewer, Cobb, Herdon, Ryan Wells, Joyner

HR: Gleaves, Herdon

RBI: Gleaves 2, Cobb 2, Herdon 2, Ryan Wells, Brewer, Austin Wells, Clement

BB: Mathew Boyett

RS: Brewer 2, Gleaves 2, Herdon 2, Heffington, Dunkley, Clement, Cobb, Ryan Wells

SAC: Ryan Wells

ROE: Brewer, Austin Wells, Gleaves

FC: Austin Wells

SB: Heffington

PIK: Austin Wells

LOB: 6

E: Austin Wells 2, Clement, Herdon, Kobe Timberlake, Joyner, Brewer

WP: Austin Wells (6.1IP, 13H, 10R, 4ER, 7K, 1BB)

Save: Cody Sostrom (0.2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 0BB)

Forrest: JT Ferguson 3-for-5, Dustin Brashear 3-for-5, Dylan Eady 3-for-3, Blaize Sweeney 2-for-4, Ethan Mealer 1-for-4, Jacob Jones 1-fo-4

2B: Brashear 2, Eady, Mealer, Ferguson

3B: Ferguson

RBI: Jones 3, Ferguson 2, Cunningham, Mealer, Brashear

BB: Eady

RS: Ferguson 2, Lucas Welch 2, Eady 2, Brashear, Gauge Anderson, Jaylen Smith, Jones

ROE: Jones, Smith, Jonathan Lykins, Cunningham

FC: Lykins, Mealer

LOB: 8

E: Sweeney 2, Smith, Cunningham

LP: Jordan Jent (3.2IP, 10H, 9R, 4ER, 2K, 1BB), Grayson Whaley (0.2IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 0K, 0BB), Dustin Brashear (2.2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0K, 1BB)

Game Two

Forrest 100 110 3-6 10 1

Eagleville 010 020 0-3 8 3

Forrest: Luke Cunningham 2-for-4, JT Ferguson 1-for-4, Dustin Brashear 1-for-4, Jonathan Lykins 1-for-3, Ethan Mealer 1-for-3, Jarvis Lyttle 1-for-1, Dylan Eady 1-for-4, Jaylen Smith 1-for-4, Jacob Jones 1-for-3

TB: Jacob Jones, Jaylen Smith, Jarvis Lyttle, Jonathan Lykins, Dylan Eady, Luke Cunningham 2, Ethan Mealer, Dustin Brashear, JT Ferguson

RBI: Ferguson 2, Jones, Smith, Lykins, Mealer

BB: Ferguson 2, Cunningham, Lykins, Sweeney, Smith

RS: Ferguson, Cunningham, Eady, Gauge Anderson, Smith, Jones

SAC: Jones

ROE: Lykins, Eady, Sweeney

FC: Jones

HBP: Brashear

GIDP: Jonathan Lykins

SB: Jones, Lucas Welch, Cunningham, Ferguson

LOB: 12

E: Mealer

WP: Jonathan Lykins (7IP, 8H, 3R, 1ER, 9K, 2BB)

Eagleville: Ryan Wells 2-for-3, Blake Brewer 1-for-4, Austin Wells 1-for-4, Mathew Boyett 1-for-3, Jonah Clement 1-for-3, Ethan Cobb 1-for-3, Blake Joyner 1-for-3

2B: Austin Wells

RBI: Austin Wells, Joyner

BB: Boyett, Cade Herdon

RS: Brewer, Austin Wells, Clement

SAC: Herdon

ROE: Boyett

FC: Clement

LOB: 8

E: Brewer, Austin Wells, Kobe Timberlake

DP: Brewer, Issac Gleaves 2, Boyett, Miller

LP: Cody Sostrom